Monday, August 29, 2016

Snack Easy Series #4

Hi Guys! How are you? I hope life's treating you well. You would think that with my comps behind me things would have calmed down a bit. Oh no! There's so much going on. The semester officially kicked off this past Tuesday. While I'm not taking any more courses, between my TA duties, working on my dissertation proposal, and looking for jobs (eek!), I'm keeping quite busy. I'm also working on a few exciting blog and business projects. I can't wait until I can share them with you!

Right now I'm coming to you with the August installment of the Snack Easy Series. This month I've got two types of jerky, a tropical inspired crisp, a black bean snack, and some healthy oatmeal cookies.

Alyssa's Healthy Oatmeal Bites
Bought at: Publix
Price: $4.28
Repeat Purchase: Absolutely
I wanted to start off on a high note. These oatmeal bites were my favorite snack of the bunch. So delicious. If you didn't tell me they were "healthy," I wouldn't have guessed it. Somehow they taste like a real oatmeal raisin cookie, but they manage to be low in calories and sugar and high in fiber. It's some kind of wizardry Alyssa's got going on here. These would be a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth craving with zero guilt. I highly recommend trying them. Price wise they're not the cheapest, but they're also not the most expensive. One package costs $4.29 and contains 4 servings (one serving is 2 cookies). That gives it a cost per serving of a little over a dollar. I don't buy these every time I go grocery shopping, but I do pick up a package when I want a sweet treat but don't want to go rogue. I've lucked out and gotten them on sale a couple times though.

Mango & Ginger Crisps
Bought at: Trader Joe's
Price: $3.99
Repeat Purchase: Yes!
I've enjoyed other flavors of these Trader Joe's crisps, so when I saw these mango and ginger crisps I immediately knew I wanted to try them. These didn't disappoint in the slightest. They are really good. I ate these crisps with everything from fruit, pepper jack string cheese, or yogurt as a midday snack. While they're pretty low in calories, they are nutritionally neutral. The price point is reasonable in my opinion. One box is $4 and it has 5 servings, which makes the cost per serving about eighty cents. I would buy these again because the flavor is amazing, but not regularly since they don't provide any beneficial nutrients. I will say that these are a great snack if you want something crunchy to nosh on.

Turkey Perky Jerky Jammin' Jamaican
Bought at: Publix
Price: $4.69 (sale price)
Repeat Purchase: No

When I spotted these at Publix, my interest was quickly piqued. Turkey jerky in a Jamaican jerk flavor?? Sounded very promising. While I loved the initial flavor of these, they left a somewhat salty aftertaste in my mouth. It's possible that I could have misinterpreted what was in fact some other flavor as salty. I say this because when I checked the sodium content it wasn't as high as I would have expected based on the taste. These have a chewy, but not super tough texture. The bag says two servings but I think this is pretty clearly a one serving snack. Nutritionally, it offers a good amount of protein (esp. if consumed as one serving - 22 grams). On the other hand, since I consider this to be a one serving snack, that makes the cost per serving very expensive at $4.69 per serving. Ultimately, I don't think I would buy it again with its high cost and salty aftertaste.

Country Archer All Natural Turkey Jerky Honey Dijon
Bought at: World Market
Price: $3.29 (sale price)
Repeat Purchase: No
I'm on the fence about these. They weren't bad, but they didn't taste amazing either. In contrast to the Jamaican Jerky, these had a pretty tough texture and they weren't overly salty. Similar to the Jamaican jerky, however, this jerky offers a solid source of protein (especially if consumed as one serving). Country Archer also uses all organic ingredients, which may explain the cost. I got the honey dijon on sale for $3.29 but it's typically around $6. Since I consider this to be a single serving snack as well, this makes the cost per serving pretty high at $3.29 ($6 if it weren't on sale). In terms of repeat purchase, I would lean toward no if I had to make a decision. However, I'm open to buying these again because I think the taste could grow on me. I also like that it's high in protein and quite low in sodium (esp. for a jerky). If I were to buy it again though, it'd probably have to be on sale.

Inner Bean Black Bean Snack
Bought at: Trader Joe's
Price: $1.49
Repeat Purchase: Yes
These black bean snacks have a really good flavor to them. They have a light and crispy texture which I enjoyed. If you've tried the pea snacks that look like these but are green, these have the same texture. Price wise this snack is about as cheap as you can get. At $1.49 per bag with three servings per bag, the cost per serving is 0.50 cents. In the two bags that I've bought, both had four servings. Don't you love it when they underestimate the number of servings?! It's like the snack fairies smiled on you. Nutritionally, this snack has a good amount of fiber, owing to the fact that it's made from black beans.  If you didn't catch it earlier, these are definitely a repeat purchase for me. I think they would make for a great healthier snack alternative for kids compared to some chips or crackers.

That concludes this month's roundup! I hope you guys have been enjoying the series. If there are any healthier snacks that you'd like for me to review then drop me a note below! I'm open. As long as it doesn't involve peanut butter.

I hope your week is as delicious as those oatmeal bites:)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Culinary Pursuits: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chunk Coconut Cashew Cookies

Walmart has these insanely addictive toasted coconut cashews. I discovered them last summer and was immediately hooked. Guys, they were so good that I had to stop buying them. I was crushing them. It was shameful. Each time I bought a new bag, I'd say this would be the time I practiced some self-restraint. Nope. So I cut myself off cold turkey. When I had some people over a few months back I thought this would be a great snack to set out. It got me thinking about how delicious these would be in a cookie. So that's what I did. I put them in a cookie and tossed in some semisweet chocolate chunks so they wouldn't get lonely, and the result was deliciousness. 

The recipe is a simple one so you'll be in and out of the kitchen in no time.  Now I made these two ways. The second time I made them I used half white whole wheat flour, and half all purpose flour. good! The first time I made them I exclusively used white whole wheat flour. Still delicious but the cookie was somewhat denser. Either way you make these you're coming out ahead. Those are pretty good odds in my book. But don't take my word for it. Make them and taste for yourself. After you do let me know if you need my address to send the thank you card:)

3/4 cups of white whole wheat flour
3/4 cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped coconut cashews (found at Walmart)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/4 tsp sea salt (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup melted coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with wax paper and lightly spray. You can use a silpat mat instead if you have one (I need to go ahead and order one from Amazon).
Pulse the cashews in a food processor to chop. You can also chop them with a knife or break them apart manually.
In a large bowl combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt
In a separate bowl add the egg, sugars, cooled coconut oil, and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and slowly mix until no dry pockets of flour remain.
Fold in the chopped cashews and the dark chocolate chunks.

Use a medium sized cookie scoop to portion out dough and then roll into a ball with your hand. Complete until all of the dough has been used. This should make between 15-18 cookies.
Bake in the oven for ~9 minutes (don't over bake, you want a soft, chewy center!)
Let cook for a minute or two and enjoy!

P.S. Yes, I'm still alive. I just finished taking the last of my comprehensive exams yesterday. Woohoo! I may bake these cookies again this weekend as a treat:)